Indian Railways drafts protocol to protect its 13 lakh employees from COVID-19

Mapping all its 13 lakh employees and identifying potential quarantine facilities for each of them is part of the protocol drafted by Central Railway to insulate its staffers from COVID-19.

The document ‘Rail Pariwar Dekh Rekh Muhim’ (Drive to take care of the railway family) lists a series of steps to be followed by zonal railways to keep employees safe. All 17 zones of the railways, India’s largest employer, are preparing to implement the steps recommended, officials said.

“All employees over the respective divisions/ workshops/HQ to be mapped. That is employees name, current residential address, phone numbers should be maintained in such a way that their location (area wise) can be ascertained and they can be contacted anytime.

“For each employee (including their dependents) a potential quarantine facility /isolation facility should be identified or marked,” the paper says. Sources said the protocol is already being implemented in some zones following the deaths of two railway employees in the pandemic.

On April 5, a 53-year-old technician with no travel history died at a hospital in Siliguri in West Bengal, prompting authorities to order home quarantine for his 12 colleagues and as many medics who treated him.

On March 23, an official died of the disease in the West Bengal capital Kolkata. All concerned senior officials have been advised to keep the complete mapping of employees with them at all times. They have also been told to create a database of healthy employees and volunteers, sources said.

The protocol states that special care must be taken with employees and their dependents who have co-morbidities, the presence of other health complications such as hypertension and diabetes.

It suggests that local level committees be immediately formed, which would help in monitoring home quarantine, availability of grocery and daily requirements to quarantined employees and their dependents.

“They would also coordinate with medical teams, police and other local authorities and follow other instructions issued from time to time such as increasing awareness for protection against COVID-19, family counselling,” it says.

All leave sanctioning authorities and senior and immediate supervisors of all departments will have to check every day with their staff, if they or any of their family member is showing COVID-19 symptoms.

The protocol states that the personnel department will be tasked with tracking connections of COVID -19 identified cases to avoid community spread.

“A core team to be made in each unit which will receive information regarding new cases and start tracking possible connections. Additionally, a weekly telephonic contact to be made with each employee.

“A record of this to be maintained and a daily report to be submitted to respective higher officer. In this their medical conditions to be enquired and instruction to be given to contact immediately’ when any such symptoms, related to COVID-19, is found,” the paper states.